Aug 04, 2015


13 Qualities that Make Us Latina Smart: Which One is Your Best?

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Being smart is not just about having a high I.Q. or getting a doctorate degree.  Being truly smart is about having personal qualities that helps us achieve, succeed and rise above life challenges.

My mother dropped out of school in the 8th grade, and although she’s always regretted not completing her education, she is one of the smartest women I know.  For the past 30 years, my mother has been an entrepreneur, running a very small coffee shop right in the heart of New York City.  With very limited English, she managed to learn all the components and complexities of successfully running a business — from tracking inventory, sales and income, to good marketing.  With a warm, friendly smile and good customer services, she wows her loyal customers every single day.

There is something culturally smart about growing up Latina.  We are raised smart from early on, a gift that’s passed on from our abuelitas to our mothers, and from our mother’s to us.  It is a powerful recipe for life, with resiliency and resourcefulness as main ingredients, seasoned well with commitment and a positive attitude.  A recipe we’ll surely pass on to our own girls…

Our goal at New Latina is to celebrate the strengths, talents and lifestyle of today’s Latina women, and share content that fosters personal growth and success. This is why I am extremely proud to be a Latina Smart ambassador. For the next couple of months we will discuss some of the qualities that makes us strong and smart as New Latinas!  Follow my #LatinaSmart tweets, videos and blog posts and join in the conversation.

13 Personal Qualities That Make Us Latina Smart:  Which One is Your Best?

1.  Resourceful. We are problem-solvers, cultural bridges, navigators, spokespersons and always figuring out how to get things done well, quickly and efficiently.

2. Ambitious. We always want more.  And why not?  We want to be good mothers, loyal friends, caring daughters and we want to be successful at work.  We may not sleep much, but we love our full life.

3.  Resilient. We rise above, we succeed despite life’s challenges or barrier.  We get up when we fall hard, and we keep going when the world tells us to sit down and give up.

4.  Confident. We feel good about who we are and how we look.  We’re not afraid of being ourselves, and putting ourselves out there.

5. Passionate. We love strong.  We work hard.  We play well.  When we set our minds to do something, we do, and we do it with passion.

6.  Bicultural Pride. We’re proud of our heritage, our family and our journey.  We embrace all of who we are — Latinas and Americanas — taking the best that each world has to offer.

7.  Flexible. In a day, we can go from our work shoes to our stilettos without blinking once.  We adjust to what the day throws our way, and we keep our cool.

8.  Great at Multitasking. Oh yes, we can cook while helping the kids do homework, while listening to our spouse talk about their day at work, while thinking about our grocery list.  It feels crazy at times, but we wouldn’t want to have it any other way…

9.  Adventurous. We’re willing to take risks, travel alone, confront the unknown.  We’re always ready to take that next plunge.

10. Positive Attitude. During challenging times we keep a positive outlook.  We pray or talk to our comadres and friends, to keep ourselves hopeful and positivas.

11.  Entrepreneurial Spirit. Language barriers, lack of skills or financial resources can’t stop our undying entrepreneurship spirit.  We set up shop in our kitchen table, our living room or en el salon de belleza down the block.

12. Always Seeking Ways to Improve Ourselves, Our Family and Our Community. We have a collective sense of achievement.  Personal achievement is never enough. We love giving back to our community and sharing our success with our family and friends.

13. Life-Long Learners. We are always seeking to learn, to be enlightened, and to be wiser.  Whether it takes going back to school, reading great books at home, or subscribing to blogs online, we are life-long learners.  We value education for life.

So which of these personal qualities makes YOU Latina Smart?

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Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Dr. Perez-Litwin is the Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, a multi-platform professional development organization designed to advance the careers and leadership of women. She's the creative force behind the LATINAS THINK BIG™ national tour, sponsored and live-streamed by Google.

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  1. Yay! So true!!! Cheers to all Smart Latinas everywhere!

  2. I can definitely agree with you, IQ and education are not what makes a person smart overall. Many of the characteristics you mention are from emotional intelligence, which to me is the most important asset.

    Of course if you are born with no brains there is not much you can do, but I strongly believe is not quite enough to have smarts…as per being Latina…that is a whole different story.

    We have what we call in Colombia “Malicia Indigena” and not in the bad sense. It is pretty much what allows us to go on, be resourceful, find the right way, learn fast, create incredibly deep connections with others and succeed despite all the adversities we may encounter.

    Although looking at many immigrants (like me,) off the boat or may I say off the plane, I can say I also encounter these characteristics you talk about in many of them. I guess we need them to face new circumstances as we go along.

    • Angélica Pérez-Litwin angelica says:

      Marcela, I love that phrase “Malicia Indigena”! And, yes, it really boils down to emotional intelligence. Something that many of us are talented on for sure.

  3. My favorite 2 qualities that you pointed out are Bicultural Pride and Resilient. I think those definitely separate us from other non-latinas woman. I love the whole “Latina Smart” thing. I feel so identified right away and curious of the conversations!

    • Angélica Pérez-Litwin angelica says:

      Dariela, when I think about Latina women, I immediately think about resiliency for sure. I see in all the women in my family, and among my Latina friends.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying this Latina Smart conversation! :)

  4. Horte Hernandez says:


    Me encanto!! Wow thank you very much; I’m sharing this!

    • Great! So glad it resonated with you. Please do share with you amigas…show them how special and smart they really are!

  5. Angelica, your mother reminds me of my great grandmother, whom we all affectionately called, ‘Buelita. She also became a successful entrepreneur, opening and running one of the best restaurants in the Dallas area, despite her limited English. She lived a hard life with many trials, but she was the happiest, most selfless person I have known. When I think of her, I think of resiliency, resourcefulness, and also compassion.

    Thank you for sharing this post. You have described many of the qualities that I strive to have in my own life.

    • Monica, you should see how my 66-year-old mother carries her store’s inventory on the train every day, and how she moves around in her small store. Your Buelita and my mother are real campeonas. True role models for women like you and I. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Monica! Un abrazo…

  6. this was great, Dr. very well written and thought-provoking. so often, we are pigeonholed as a certain type of woman because of our heritage. we break new barriers every day!

    • Bren, yes, I don’t like the stereotype. In fact, this is why we created New Latina, to show a more real and honest picture of who we are…
      Un abrazo para ti, amiga…

  7. Right on! :) Reading this article as I quote you is a “powerful recipe for life”. Glad to be part of “New Latina”and reading all the great topics to keep the word “Latina” alive! :P

    • Jennifer, you are the best! Thank you for your kind words and being a part of the New Latina community!

  8. This is a wonderful and inspiring post. I love that you’ve included having bicultural pride on the list. I’m proud of my dual-heritage and the expanded perspective it brings. Thank you!

    • Angélica Pérez-Litwin angelica says:

      Ezzy, we often think of “cultural pride,” but, like you said, bicultural pride is relevant in our lives. We take the best from each culture…and that makes us smart! Thanks for your comment!

  9. Angelica: This is wonderful! I have been proud to be a latina in this american culture. I have been taught by my parents that ignorance is unacceptable and if someone thinks you can’t do something – prove them wrong. After reading this I understand it’s our culture (and not just my family). As my Abuelita always say “la tierra te tira” which is why I love going home to Argentina when I can :) The reason its true is because we find ourselves surrounded by like thinkers everywhere, without searching them out.

  10. I love this. Sometimes I don’t give myself credit for everything I do. I usually tend to focus on everything I didn’t get done. Somehow this made me proud myself today….I am printing it out and putting this lost on the fridge. (I owe it to myself).

  11. lisarenata says:

    I love this!

    You’ve described everything I love about being Latina and more. Like Dari said, both Bicultural Pride and Resilience are my favorite and can agree that is what differentiate us from other women. I’ve been blessed to have grown up around a lot of trabajodoras y luchadoras latinas.

  12. I am ambitious, confident, passionate, and adventurous! I’d like to think I’m all of them! LOL

  13. Excellent post, Angelica! Thank you for inspiring so many women (and men) through Very proud of you for getting selected for Latina Smart!

  14. Christine says:

    I can identify with the resilient one, although there some other ones that definitely apply. Isn’t great to be Latina!

  15. I think pride, passion, and the positive attitude are definitely traits in my family. Love this!

  16. This is ALL so true! I LOVE IT! My mother dropped out of high school and had two children by the age of 18-years old. But that didn’t stop her from being a go-getter and she never relied on a man – She has always been resilient. She has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and gave us the same spirit. We were NOT wealthy growing up but our family has always been rich in love, support, and pride. I love your article and it made me smile and proud to be a Latina!


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